Lecture 2: Technology in Ancient Civilizations
• Urban Revolution was 6000 years ago.
• At six different centres: Mesopotamia (after 3500BC), Egypt (after 3400BC),
Indus River Valley (after 2500BC), Yellow River China (1800BC),
Mesoamerica (500BC), South America (300BC).
• Characteristics: High population, centralized political and economic
authority, complex architecture, higher learning.
• They developed because large populations needed intensified agricultural
• Simple agriculture replaced by field agriculture.
• All early civilizations required large scale hydraulic engineering projects
(because of too little or too much water flow).
• Hydraulic Hypothesis: there is a link between the early rise of civilization
and large scale hydraulic system.
• Irrigation on such a large scale causes the emergence of political systems
(for example Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, etc all developed in similar ways).
• After wars, losers became slaves or peasants (under intense work).
• Warmer climates enabled high crop production.
• Mass labour needs to be controlled by a higher political authority.
• CRITICSM: Argue that centralized political power did not just centre around
irrigation. Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica had states before irrigation.
Irrigation more of a consequence or product rather than a cause.
Early Science and Technology in Ancient Civilizations
• Schools developed to teach writing skills
• Sexigesimal (base 60) system (linked to today’s hours, minutes and circles).
• Sophisticated astronomy and highly accurate calendars.
• Conducted systematic research.
• Built great monuments, like the Tower of Babel (270 ft).
• Large scale architectural projects l